John McGavin (1814 – 1881) Kilwinning-born businessman who was chairman of the Scottish Temperance League and a keen patron of the arts.
John McGavin was born in Kilwinning on 8th July 1814 and trained for service in the church but due to poor health he had to abandon his studies. In 1832 he started work for George Gardner, a grain merchant in Glasgow, which led to him forming a partnership with his brother-in-law in the new firm of Harvie and McGavin.
In 1845 he became active in speaking out in favour of the Temperance movement, becoming chairman of the Scottish Temperance League. He was a keen patron of the arts and provided substantial funding when the Glasgow Institute of Fine arts moved to new premises in 1880. He developed a keen interest in the expansion of the railways and served on several railway committees and at the time of his death was chairman of the Forth and Clyde Junction Company. At this time, he was also a director of the Chamber of Commerce.
John McGavin died suddenly whilst walking along the banks of the Garnock on the evening of 12th July 1881. As well as leaving substantial amounts in his will for religious and charitable purposes, he also bequeathed £7000 for the formation of a public park in Kilwinning. This park was formally gifted to the town on 20th September 1884.
On his death he was described as “modest and unaspiring, gentle and generous during his life, munificent in the bequests he made in anticipation of his death, the benign influence of such a man cannot be estimated, and it will never be known.”
The park continues to be popular and over the years has had additional paths added, along with picnic areas and seating. In 2020 an all ability playpark and an outdoor gym were installed.